How To Build Lasting Customer Relationships
Consumers are a confident bunch, and if a business doesn’t know a person’s likes or dislikes, they are more than willing to jump ship to another vendor to gain a sense of personalized connection. This tendency extends to every node of the customer journey. Nearly half of consumers don’t like advertisements because they’re unrelatable. Forty-four percent of consumers say they will buy again after a personalized shopping experience; 40 percent bought something they hadn’t planned to purchase as a result of personalization.
In other words, loyal customers come out of personalized interactions. Businesses must invest in strong customer relationships or they will lose to competitors who are all too eager to poach customers who will abandon a vendor at the drop of a hat. For businesses looking to thrive in these, here is how to approach navigating finicky customers in order to foster rewarding customer relationships and stoke a sense of lifelong brand loyalty as customers’ desires evolve:
- Retaining customers should be a central focus of your marketing plan
Retention should be one of your top priorities in developing and enhancing customer relationships. It’s easier to retain an ongoing customer than to recruit a new one. Plus, if you handle your customer relationships right, you can not only keep your customers but encourage them to come back more frequently or make larger purchases.
The first step to building retention is simply to prioritize it by employing customer relationship management (CRM) tools. Keep track of how many customers return to you and why. Then, make sure that repeat customers hold a central focus in your company’s marketing plan. How do you entice current customers to stay with you, try new product offerings or services or expand on your relationship with more complex purchases?
When a customer makes a purchase from your company, that should be the start of your relationship, not the end. Not only do you have a captive audience, but you also have data about that customer’s preferences and purchasing habits. Harness and use it.
- Personalize relationships through tailored communication
Communication with your customers should be more than just mass email blasts. Instead of bombarding previous customers with nonstop offers, use customer analytics to understand how you can customize and personalize your messaging.
With a bit of analysis, for example, you can use past data to figure out what products or services a customer may be interested in purchasing in the future. Then, you can alert them to relevant special offers on related products or opportunities to “level up” on services.
Not all of your communication should be about your company trying to sell something. Diversify tailored communications by reminding customers about special features that you’ve noticed they’re not utilizing. Let them know about major developments in your industry. Keep things personal by wishing customers a happy birthday. If your communication isn’t always about getting more money from them, the relationship won’t seem so one-sided and will come off as more genuine.
- Always strive to exceed expectations
The key to stronger customer relationships and satisfaction is to go above and beyond expectations. Giving your customers more than they expect will surprise and delight them. It’s a surefire way to guarantee not only that they keep coming back, but also that they will be likely to refer their friends and family.
In each and every interaction with your customers, make sure that they walk away fully satisfied. When you consistently listen to your customers, acknowledge their concerns and correct any problems or issues that they encounter, you’ll stand out from the crowd and make a lasting impression.
- Use loyalty programs that go beyond earning points
Most businesses already have loyalty programs to encourage customers to come back. One of the most popular programs involves earning points for every purchase that can later be exchanged for goods. While this is a good start and certainly better than nothing at all, savvy companies will get more creative.
There are lots of companies who are doing this well. Stitch Fix, for example, offers a $25 reward to customers who refer a friend that makes a purchase. Sephora offers benefits like free makeovers to customers that spend a minimum amount. Phone companies commonly offer money for switching providers. Most banks or credit card companies offer discounts at partner stores. All of these are great examples of ways to get customers excited about doing business with a company and give them tangible reasons to stay loyal.
Customer relationships are more important than ever
In today’s digital age, the impact of developing stronger customer relationships spreads further than ever. Customers are eager to share their opinions, whether positive or negative and have a great many channels to do so. The work your company puts into maintaining and strengthening relationships will make or break you. Just like any relationship, strong customer relationships require work but the payoff to your businesses’ bottom line is worth the efforts.